Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne

11 March – 26 June 2016

This bilingual exhibition is about the lives of young Australians in France and Belgium during World War I. A century after the arrival of Australian troops on the Western Front in March 1916, this exhibition focuses on the experiences of the soldiers in the periods that they spent away from the front line.

New languages, food and culture challenged and modified the attitudes of the young soldiers, nurses and volunteers, and they returned to Australia with new insights into the people, places and landscapes which they had encountered. Contemporary diaries and letters, photographs and ephemera in the collections of the University of Melbourne Archives provide a wealth of little known details about day-to-day life during this tumultuous time.

Somewhere in France: Australians on the Western Front is part of an innovative project which, since 2012, has been developed by the School of Languages and Linguistics (French Studies) and the University of Melbourne Archives. A series of public programs will accompany the exhibition.

Public Lecture Program

Join us for an inspiring program of public lectures and seminars on the first floor of the Baillieu Library during the exhibition. A range of stimulating speakers including artists, curators and historians will participate.

17 March 2016
6:00pm – 7:00pm
Public lecture
Professor Martin Lyons, Emeritus Professo of History in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales Reading and writing communities in the trenches 1914–1918 (France and Italy)




18 March 2016
9:15am – 12:30pm
Research seminar
Everyday reading and writing during the Great War: écritures ordinaires in extraordinary context




14 April 2016
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Curator’s floor talk
The exhibition curator, Jenny Long, will present a floor talk that engages directly with the themes of the exhibition Somewhere in France: Australians on the Western Front




11 May 2016
9.30am – 12:45pm
The Social and Cultural Experience of World War I




22 June 2016
12.00pm – 12:30pm
Curator’s floor talk
30 Objects in 30 Minutes: Behind the Scenes with the Curator

Noel Shaw Gallery, Level 1, Baillieu Library

In the final week of Somewhere in France: Australians on the Western Front join curator, Jenny Long, as she unveils her favourite objects from the exhibition and unlocks the fascinating stories of some of the University of Melbourne Archives material on display.

Jenny Long is a free-lance curator based in Bendigo and Melbourne. She is a graduate of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Melbourne and has a long association with the University. Most recently she has curated The Piranesi Effect 2104 and The Anatomy Lesson 2012 for the Ian Potter Museum of Art.


Image Gallery

C. Leyshon-White, frontispiece for The Dernière Heure, Rouen 1919, UMA A. P. Derham, Map with hand-drawn features (detail), 1916, UMA A. P. Derham, Map with hand-drawn features, 1916, UMA Christmas Dinner Menu from Alfred Derham, 1916, UMA Photograph of William Keast and diary page (detail) c.1918, UMA C. Robert and L. Bousquet, Quand Madelon, song, Detroit 1918, Rare Music Collection Wilberforce Newton in a field, photograph, c.1915, UMA The 19th Battalion Signals Company (detail), 1916, postcard, UMA Unknown artist, Portrait of a woman Bailleul July 1917, UMA Giant Pram from Busy Bee’s scrapbook Swallow and Ariell Pty Ltd, UMA Alan Chisholm, Listening post on the Messines Road 1917, UMA Alan Chisholm, Ramparts at Ypres 1917, UMA Alan Chisholm, Windmill near Zuztpeene 1917, UMA Alan Chisholm, Church of Noordpeene 1917, UMA Some Fighter, Kewpie Anzac c.1916, Murielle Crawford Collection, UMA French Lace Shawl given to Major William Johnston, c1900-15, private collection Doris McKellar, Reception for General Pau, University of Melbourne 1918, UMA Samuel Duncan, Portrait of Ray Jones, 1915-1917, UMA Albert Postcard Album, Newton Stephens Family Collection, UMA Pressed Flowers, 1916 Ray Jones Collection, UMA Ray Jones in a Cornfield, Ray Jones Collection, UMA Receipt: Royal Pavilion Mme C Lanne Biarritz, 1917, Ray Jones Collection, UMA Receipt: Grand Hotel de La Grotte Lourdes,1917, Ray Jones Collection, UMA Receipt: Restaurant de la Calende Rouen, 1917 Ray Jones Collection, UMA Receipt: Hotel Continental Pau, 1917, Ray Jones Collection UMA Semaphore cards, letter G, Ray Jones Collection, UMA Semaphore cards, letter Y, Ray Jones Collection, UMA Transport tickets, Rouen 1917-18, Ray Jones Collection, UMA Train tickets, Paris/Bordeaux/Biarritz 1917, Ray Jones Collection, UMA